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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 December 13 - 19  > Resumption of CH-53E flights is unacceptable: JCP Koike
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2017 December 13 - 19 [US FORCES]

Resumption of CH-53E flights is unacceptable: JCP Koike

December 19, 2017
The U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa on December 18 announced that it will soon resume flights of the CH-53E helicopter which accidently dropped an 8-kg window onto the schoolyard of a primary school in Okinawa's Ginowan City.

The U.S. military told the Japanese authorities that the accident was due to "human error", and said in a statement that comprehensive measures have been taken to ensure the safety of all aircraft. The Defense Ministry accepted this explanation, inviting the outbreak of anger by Okinawans.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on the same day held a press conference in the Diet building and criticized the government for readily agreeing to the resumption of flights. Koike said, "It's unacceptable."

Koike pointed out, "What kind of 'human error' was involved has yet to be determined. It's impossible to take preventive steps without knowing the detailed cause of the accident."

After the same type helicopter crashed and burst into flames in the Takae district in Okinawa's Higashi Village earlier this year and another crashed onto the Okinawa International University campus in 2004, the U.S. military in both cases explained that "human error" was a factor. Citing these cases, Koike said, "The CH-53s are old aircraft which have been used for almost 40 years since the 1980s, but no investigation has been conducted to see if they have structural flaws. So, the case shouldn't be closed by simply claiming human error."

Also, referring to Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide's "such an accident should not occur" comment, Koike said, "What 'should not occur' is to allow the U.S. to place its base in the middle of a residential area and to allow helicopters to fly over the heads of local people."

Immediately after the latest drop accident, government spokesman Suga cited the "relocation" of the Futenma base from the current location in Ginowan to the Henoko district in Nago City. Regarding this issue, Koike said, "The 'relocation' won't eliminate the risk of accidents. It'll rather increase the risk. The only solution is the unconditional removal of the base from Okinawa."

Past related article:
> Only a week after crash, US military resumes CH-53E flights [October 18 and 19, 2017]
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